Western Province are one of four contenders in the running for SuperSport Rugby Challenge honours.
On Sunday, Province and the Bulls lock horns in the first semi-final at the Sisa Dukashe Stadium in Mdantsane (3pm kickoff), while the Lions take on Griquas (1.45pm kickoff) for a place in the final of a competition in its inaugural season.
Province ended the round-robin stages unbeaten and with the most log points, earning coach John Dobson and his talented young squad home ground advantage for their play-off matches.
Last weekend they thumped a Free State XV 26-0 in their quarter-final at the Green Point Track for their ninth straight win, but they face an acid test against an old foe also enjoying a fine season, and lapping up the prospect of playing this important game at a neutral venue.
Yes, once again Province have passed up the opportunity to play at home, something they have done on just about every occasion.
“We’re more than happy to play our home games away from Newlands or at our second home at City Park in Crawford,” said Dobson.
“Taking the game to all parts of the Cape is what it’s all about for us; we’ve had five home games and played them at five different venues and enjoyed strong support and positive results, so why buck the trend?
“To be going back to Mdantsane for a second time to duel with the Bulls will for sure draw a big crowd, and many will be backing us to go through to the final.
“I believe we’ll be too strong come the forward battle,” Dobson added.
“Our set-piece plays have improved by the game and then of course our back seven can turn it on at the drop of a hat.
“So I’m pretty bullish about our chances.”
Chad Solomon (hooker) and Khanyo Ngcukana (rightwing)are the only two new faces in the run-on XV that did duty last weekend.
Now the Bulls are more than happy to slug it out with an old foe at a neutral venue.
“Thanks WP for doing us a huge favour by not playing this big game in Cape Town,” Bulls coach Pote Human said.
“It’s like we’ve been gift-wrapped 10 points before stepping onto the field, and we’re chuffed about that.
“That said, Province did beat Border here, so will be afforded the utmost respect; it’s a side that is deadly on attack and sound on defence.
“No-one’s had their number yet and to have bagged 10 wins on the trot shows how good they are... up until this point, that is.”
“We’ve done our homework on them and feel upbeat about ending up on the right side of the result.”
The earlier semi-final should produce a win for the Lions, who have only been tamed once this season. They’ve scored 75 tries in nine games, including six in the quarter-final against the Pumas.
But now they meet a full-strength Currie Cup side in the form of Griquas, who mauled Free State and a Sharks XV, as well as the EP Kings in pursuit of a last-four place.
Western Province: 15 Craig Barry, 14 Khanyo Ngcukana, 13 Michal Hazner, 12 Ruhan Nel, 11 Marcello Sampson, 10 Kurt Coleman, 9 Godlen Masimla, 8 Jaco Coetzee, 7 Johan du Toit, 6 Eital Bredenkamp (captain), 5 Eduard Zandberg, 4 Jurie van Vuuren, 3 Michael Kumbirai, 2 Chad Solomon, 1 Caylib Oosthuizen.
Replacements: 16 Dean Muir, 17 Frans van Wyk, 18 Ruben de Villiers, 19 Luke Stringer, 20 Herschel Jantjies, 21 Brandon Thomson, 22 Grant Hermanus